Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans has defended the tackle from teammate Josh Aloiai that has sent the rugged forward and his opposing prop, Alex Seyfarth, to the sidelines.
Aloiai on Monday accepted a one-game ban for the incident with an early guilty plea rather than risking a fortnight's suspension while the Tigers announced Seyfarth would be out "for several weeks" after suffering a high-grade injury to his medial collateral ligament.
Returning to the field on Saturday following a three-month layoff with an elbow injury, Aloiai was charged with grade-two dangerous contact after the former Tiger struck Seyfarth on the side of his leg in a three-man tackle.
Cherry-Evans leaped to the defence of Aloiai on Monday morning and dismissed suggestions players were intentionally out to hurt others.
"I don't think he intentionally wanted someone to hurt their knee," he said.
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"I don't think there's any of that in the game anymore. I don't think anyone goes out there to hurt someone to have them sit out for the rest of the season.
"I wouldn't go as far as that to say someone has done that, especially a teammate.
"Josh is a part of our best 17, no doubt about that, and is great to have around the group. He trains extremely hard, plays extremely hard and naturally fallen into a leadership role at Manly.
"I genuinely have enjoyed Josh at the club and while he hasn't played a heap of footy this year I know he'll be right for the end of the season when we'll need him most."
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Cherry-Evans said coming up with their best 17 to challenge the top sides in the finals was among the biggest challenges for the Sea Eagles with injuries and suspensions affecting their past month.
Despite recording wins over the Dragons and Wests Tigers in recent weeks, the Sea Eagles have conceded 72 points in the past three weeks.
"While we were happy we got the win on the weekend it definitely showed we've still got so much work to do especially if we compare ourselves to the top sides," Cherry-Evans said.
"We'd certainly like to nail down a 17 by the end of the year but with injuries and suspensions, it's really hard to do.
"At the moment we're where we deserve to be and top teams deserve to be where they are based on what they've done this season.
"Everyone is talking about Melbourne, Souths and Penrith and rightfully so. Parramatta's the forgotten team but are doing really well.
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"I still think there's a bit of a gap between the top sides and where we are.
"We definitely think we can beat the top sides if we get the opportunity but we're not the complete outfit.
"I'd like to think when you get to the finals it's anyone's race."